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Four times as many passengers could descend on railway stations in week before festive bubble starts

Rail travellers are likely to flout the five-day bubble window over Christmas amid fears of overcrowding, analysis reveals.   

Rail travel over the festive period will peak at 11am on December 23, on the day that coronavirus rules are relaxed, but thousands plan to travel before or return home afterwards.

Some of the UK’s biggest stations will see up to a fourfold increase in demand in the week before the rule relaxation takes effect.

Rail travellers are likely to flout the five-day bubble window over Christmas amid fears of overcrowding, according to Zipabout analysis (pictured: Kings Cross Station, London) 

According to analysis, sail travel over the festive period will peak at 11am on December 23, on the day that coronavirus rules are relaxed (pictured: Train going from Kings Cross to Leeds)

According to analysis, sail travel over the festive period will peak at 11am on December 23, on the day that coronavirus rules are relaxed (pictured: Train going from Kings Cross to Leeds) 

They will be three times busier in the days after the tier system returns, according to data from Zipabout, a technology company which advises the Government on overcrowding.

The analysis, which uses forecast data as opposed to historic journeys, shows that London Euston will be the busiest over the festive period.

 Demand will increase by nine times the normal levels the day before Christmas Eve, according to the analysis for The Daily Telegraph.

Between 11am and 1pm on Dec 23 is the most popular time to travel with routes to and from the North East busiest.

The analysis, which uses forecast data as opposed to historic journeys, shows that London Euston will be the busiest over the festive period (pictured: passengers at Euston in 2017)

The analysis, which uses forecast data as opposed to historic journeys, shows that London Euston will be the busiest over the festive period (pictured: passengers at Euston in 2017)

It comes amid warnings from train operators and the Transport Secretary that passengers should plan ahead as social distancing measures will mean reduced capacity. 

Six of the 10 busiest stations will be in London while Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds and Brighton will also be particularly busy, the analysis shows.

The research also shows people are planning to travel outside of the Christmas bubble window, with the four days leading up to Christmas being five times busier than usual. 

On December 18, demand will increase by 3.6 times, while on December 21, it is on course to be four times busier. December 22 will be 3.8 times. 

Six of the 10 busiest stations will be in London while Edinburgh (pictured), Manchester, Leeds and Brighton will also be particularly busy

Six of the 10 busiest stations will be in London while Edinburgh (pictured), Manchester, Leeds and Brighton will also be particularly busy

Similarly, it shows that most people do not intend to travel home on Sunday, Dec 27 when the bubbling rules end, but in the following days.

Government guidance states: ‘You should not travel to see your bubble before December  23, or travel back after the December 27 except in exceptional circumstances’. 

Zipabout is the first company to forecast demand by analysing passengers’ interactions with online journey planners and departure boards.

Crispin Humm, chief business development officer at Zipabout, said knowing which trains are most popular would allow passengers ‘to plan ahead and avoid busy services’.  

Demand may change as people alter plans closer to Christmas. 

People are planning to travel outside of the Christmas bubble window, with the four days leading up to Christmas being five times busier than usual (file image)

People are planning to travel outside of the Christmas bubble window, with the four days leading up to Christmas being five times busier than usual (file image) 

The Government is also due to announce plans to ease overcrowding which will include increasing services and carriages.

Three households will be allowed to form ‘Christmas bubbles’ over the festive period after politicians across the UK agreed to ease curbs.

The relaxed measures will be in place from Wednesday December 23 to Sunday December 27, and will allow for families in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to meet up. 

But in a blow for the hospitality industry, the Christmas bubbles will only be allowed to meet up in private homes, places of worship and in outdoor public spaces. 

However, regulations appear to suggest family members will be able to stay longer after December 27 if their train is delayed or if their car breaks down. 

The loophole applies to all members of three households even if just one person is delayed. 


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